Article by Arthur van Pelt, Derek Miller, and Sophie Dartois
CD sleeve (front)
Adore Attention Événement!
Smashing Pumpkins performed many concerts categorized under ‘special and remarkable shows’. One of these occasions was in the summer of 1998 when the band visited Europe to promote the release of their latest album, Adore. The tour began May 12th in the United Kingdom, and after 21 solid shows in less than a month, ended on June 9th in Greece. In the last week of the European leg of the world tour, Smashing Pumpkins arrived in sunny Paris, France for the Bercy gig after rocking the socks off the audience at the Pinkpop Festival in Holland. But before the band went to the Bercy venue for the night show, they performed one of those ‘special and remarkable shows’ in one of the younger districts of Paris, during the daytime on the rooftop of a well-known French music store.
No more than 50 people are estimated to have attended this intimate performance of Smashing Pumpkins on June 4th, 1998. Although Billy Corgan jokingly states, “Merci, thank you very much. I’d like to thank all seventy thousand of you.” just before the band played their last song, in fact there were only a few dozen lucky Smashing Pumpkins fans present. However, he may have been referring to the amount of fans who were listening on the radio. Since the space on the FNAC Ternes rooftop can only suit an extremely small audience (for example, SPLRA.org mentions a capacity of 40 people for the rooftop), we presume that ultimately no more than 50 fans could have attended the rooftop show. How did fans obtain their tickets for this extraordinary Smashing Pumpkins show?
With the help of a very rare, numbered, Delabel promotional CD which contains the full show that was performed on June 4th, 1998, we will try to bring the full story of the FNAC Ternes rooftop performance. The text on the sleeve of the CD is in French, so we asked Sophie Dartois from France to help us translate and to explain the details of this rare release. Sophie has translated French text for our site before and is a valued SPfreaks contributor. What follows are her notes and thoughts, and they tell the story of how this promotional CD release came to life:
“The sleeve starts with, “Attention événement!” on the front. This literally means, “Pay attention, a special event is coming!” It’s a colloquial sentence used to announce an event and invite people to stay tuned for more info.
Next, we read, “Concert exceptionnel sur la terrasse de la FNAC Ternes jeudi 4 juin 1998 à 17h.” The beginning speaks for itself since the words are very similar in English. It means that a “unique concert” or “outstanding concert” is going to take place on the rooftop of the store FNAC Ternes on Thursday, June 4th, 1998 at 5:00PM. FNAC is the greatest retailer selling cultural products (books, CDs, DVDs, etc.) and hi-fi systems in France. The name initially stood for “Fédération Nationale d’Achats des Cadres” which means “National Shopping Federation for Managers”, but it has been opened to everyone for years now. The company owns several stores in Paris and other cities, and the concert took place on the rooftop of the store located on the “Avenue des Ternes” in Paris, not far from the metro station Ternes, hence the name of the store.
Street view of the FNAC Ternes store in Paris
Other text on the front is, “Invitations à gagner sur NRJ du 25 au 29 mai”. This means “Win an invitation card on NRJ from May 25th to May 29th”. NRJ is the name of a French radio station, and the abbreviation stands for “Nouvelle Radio Jeune” = “New Radio Station for Youngsters”. The name is a pun when the French letters (“hen heir gee”) are pronounced as it sounds like the word “energy” – hence the panther in their logo. To listen to programs broadcasted on NRJ one can still tune the radio station to 100.3 FM in Paris. Sadly the programs are not as interesting as they used to be, and the new slogan of the station is now “Hit music only”.
Furthermore, the text, “Concert retransmis en direct dans votre FNAC” is found on the front of the sleeve. It literally says, “Concert broadcasted live in ‘your’ FNAC store”. However, a recently discovered promotional trade ad (pictured below) states the show was broadcast in every FNAC store. It says “retransmission en direct dans le forum de votre FNAC”, or, “retransmitted live in the forum space of your FNAC store”. It then states, “sauf Montpellier, Troyes, Villeneuve d’Asq.”. This means except in the following cities; Montpellier, Troyes, and Villeneuve d’Asq. Perhaps these stores were not fully equipped for live transmission. It also means that the concert was screened everywhere else. Forum spaces in FNAC stores are places equipped with hi-fi audio equipment, sometimes used as a showroom for high-range audiophile equipment (often tested with classical music). They are also used for mini-concerts and/or signing sessions.
The sleeve also promotes the release of a new Smashing Pumpkins album. “Nouvel album sortie le 2 juin”. This text is translated as “New album, release date is June 2nd”. Obviously this is about the album, Adore.
There is tiny little text on the lower right corner which says, “Ne pas jeter sur la voie publique”. It is a sentence usually written on handbills which means do not throw this paper on the ground in the streets. It’s the equivalent of sentences like “do not litter” in the US, or in the UK, “Keep Britain tidy”.
There’s also a green logo which says, “Le prix vert” (green price). This means when the album is released it is considered on sale for a few days in FNAC stores, with a discount on the standard retail price. “Prix vert” sales are still very common nowadays.
CD sleeve (back)
The invitation is numbered. This one is #35, as it states “Invitation No 35” (with the figure in red) on the back of the CD sleeve, and most certainly this number is also referring to the maximum amount of people that the rooftop of FNAC Ternes could hold, which is estimated to 50 people. The invitations are then numbered up to 50, presuming all places on the roof were taken by people that received this type of invitation. Note – The invitation (or ticket) image has been transposed onto the back of the CD artwork after the show was completed. The CD itself is not the invitation.
Next, “FNAC Ternes Rendez-vous jeudi 4 juin à 16h30 Avenue Niel à l’angle de la rue Bayern Paris 17ème.” This part explains where to go and how late to be there. “FNAC Ternes, appointment is on Thursday June 4th at 4:30PM (which is half an hour before the Smashing Pumpkins concert would start) and the meeting point is on Niel Avenue at the corner of Bayern Street, Paris, 17th sub-district”. On a sidenote, Paris is divided in 20 sub-districts forming a spiral (children in France call it a snail), and the 17th is in the North-West of Paris. It is considered a good living area in Paris.
Location of the 17th Sub-district in Paris
Eventually there is vertical text in the lower left corner which says “Pour une personne”. This means “For one person only”. Lastly, there are the logos (again) of NRJ, Delabel France, Hut Recordings, and FNAC on the back of the sleeve.”
It seems obvious that this CD is very rare (maximum 40 to 50 pressed) and that it was most likely a prize for winners of the NRJ radio station contest. However, the exact nature of the promo has yet to be verified. It was manufactured shortly after the FNAC Ternes rooftop concert, and it is very unlikely that it will appear on the market many times in the future. People that have attended these types of ‘special and remarkable shows’ tend to hold on to all the goodies linked to the occasion.
But Smashing Pumpkins fans are lucky to have a rather good audience recording available of this amazing Adore-era concert on YouTube! Enjoy in the following order: “To Sheila”, “Ava Adore”, “Daphne Descends”, “Once Upon a Time”, “Tear”, “Perfect”, “Blank Page”, “Shame” and “For Martha”. See you again next week!